Why HR needs to ‘strike the right balance’ of people and tech
Lincoln Financial Group transitioned its entire 9,000-plus workforce to a work-from-home setup in a matter of days this spring—and the move has gone seamlessly, according to CHRO Lisa Buckingham.
“We have had virtually no disruption to our customers, and we’re meeting and exceeding service goals,” she says, noting that, among the factors fueling the success, has been the four-year digital journey Lincoln has been on. “We firmly believe that our digital investments and business-continuity planning positioned us to be so successful in our response to COVID-19.”
Buckingham will share the highlights of that journey, and lessons learned from the pandemic and other challenges, during an address at the upcoming HR Technology Conference & Exposition®. Buckingham will deliver one of eight keynote sessions, hers entitled “Leading in a Crisis: The Strategic Intersection of People and Technology.”
The shifts and investments the company has made in recent years toward a more digitally adept business model have focused on people-empowering technology. It’s an important distinction, Buckingham says, as a successful digital transformation that’s centered on the workforce’s needs can drive everything from productivity to employee engagement.
“Technology has enabled our people—including our HR professionals—to focus on the highest-value work,” she says. “Having the right technology in place means that our HR teams can be there for our people in times of need.”
The pandemic has made it “abundantly clear,” she adds, “that companies need to invest in people-focused technology while at the same time keeping the human in human resources.”
On the latter objective, employee feedback is crucial, Buckingham says. Whether it’s embarking on a digital journey or navigating the many unknowns of a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, employee input should not only be sought but prioritized.
“We have asked our employees for feedback every single step of the way,” she says. “When COVID-19 first hit the U.S. and we wanted to learn more about what they needed to work from home, as we have planned for our eventual return to our offices and what that will look like, as the school year has started and we’ve gathered intel on what our working parents are struggling with and how we can help. This focus on employee feedback—and robust employee communication, internal and social—has been extremely important in our response at Lincoln and I believe it will continue to be crucial moving forward.”
Understanding what employees need and want, she says, will be a pivotal component of HR’s evolving role—into a strategic business partner tasked with creating empathy-driven decisions for the company’s people.
“Our workforces are looking to us to help them navigate times like these,” Buckingham says. “COVID-19 has reinforced the value of creating a model that strikes the right balance of people and tech.”